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Former big league slugger José Bautista signs one-day contract to retire with Blue Jays

TORONTO (AP) — Former big league slugger José Bautista signed a one-day contract so he could retire with the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday, one day before his name is added to the team’s level of excellence.

The 42-year-old Bautista played for eight teams during 15 seasons in the majors, making his final appearance with Philadelphia in 2018. He hit .247 with 344 homers and 975 RBIs in 1,798 games.

“I think everybody knew for a while that I had been retired, but this is a way to make it official,” Bautista said Friday.

Pittsburgh’s 20th round pick in the 2000 amateur draft, Bautista made his big league debut in 2004, when he bounced between four teams in one season. The Pirates traded him to Toronto in 2008. In return, Pittsburgh got catcher Robinzon Díaz, who made 43 appearances over two seasons.

Bautista, meanwhile, turned into one of the game’s most feared sluggers while playing home games north of the border. The six-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger swatted 288 homers during 10 seasons with Toronto, including a major league-leading 54 in 2010 and 43 in 2011.

He is perhaps best known for his emphatic bat flip after crushing a tiebreaking three-run homer in the seventh inning of Toronto’s clinching 6-3 victory over Texas in Game 5 of their 2015 AL Division Series.

A Bautista bobblehead, capturing the memorable moment, will be presented to fans entering Rogers Centre on Saturday.

“I really can’t think of a player that should retire a Blue Jay more than Jose Bautista,” team president Mark Shapiro said.

Bautista credited former Toronto manager Cito Gaston and hitting coach Dwayne Murphy for helping him become a power threat.

“Those two guys definitely worked with me behind the scenes a lot,” Bautista said. “I’m glad that I came to this organization at the time that I did because of everything that happened afterwards, and they are a big part of that.”

Former Toronto teammate and current Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman will be on hand for Saturday’s ceremony, as will several other Blue Jays from Bautista’s time. Those expected to attend include sluggers Edwin Encarnación and Justin Smoak, and left-hander Ricky Romero.

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